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Unnecessary surgeries more common than one might think

Tens of thousands of patients in Massachusetts and around the country face unnecessary surgeries annually, according to a USA TODAY report. Misdiagnosis occurs due to a doctor's incompetency, working long hours or other stress factors. Wrong medications could be prescribed, worsening the patient's health and often resulting in unnecessary surgeries. Government records show that many medical practitioners bill insurance companies for unnecessary surgical treatments that might have been avoided had they helped the patients using alternate methods of treatment instead.

Many frequently unnecessary surgical procedures are performed in some specialties more than others, including angioplasty, knee replacements and spinal treatments as well as hysterectomies and cesarean sections. In addition, cardiac surgeries and pacemaker implants have been noted as among the most over-performed procedures.

Hundreds of doctors are annually involved in malpractice suits related to allegations of inappropriate procedures and surgeon malpractice that resulted in death or serious and permanent injuries. However, the statistics do not show the entire picture as thousands of people undergo unnecessary surgeries without knowing and never sue the medical providers for any wrongdoing. The issue is serious, but an effective tracking system yet has to be created to report all misdiagnosed cases, the results and additional ailments that may occur after the procedures.

Billions of dollars are spent annually on unwarranted surgeries, affecting taxpayers and insurance rates alike. Medicare- and Medicaid-covered patients are among the most affected group of misdiagnosed patients as both insurance entities finance almost any type of surgery, allowing medical professionals to relax their professional judgments. In addition, the private insurance premiums keep rising partially because of needless surgeries. Medical malpractice attorneys may provide information to injured patients about the legal implications of surgical errors and may also provide representation in order to potentially secure compensation.

Source: USA Today, "Doctors perform thousands of unnecessary surgeries", Peter Eisler and Barbara Hansen, June 20, 2013

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